Yesterday, Kevin wanted to check out the hikes at the Pali so we went down to the Pali lookout around 1:00. We went up the right side then came down and checked out the trail to the left. after doing some research, i found out that the right side trail is the Pali Notches trail and the left is the Pali Puka trail. For detailed descriptions, check out the Pali Notches and Pali Puka writeups from Island Trails. Also see the Pali Notches and Pali Puka hikes from Martyna and Allegra's Hiking Blog. Since we just came to see what the trails were like, i didn't bring a camera.
Straight from the parking lot, we climbed up the side of the mountain where a trail was visible, and into a forest of ironwood trees that would take us to the Pali notches. On our way up, we ran into another hiker, Ian, who was also climbing up the mountain that day. The climb gains elevation pretty quickly and within 15-20 minutes we came upon an opening where the forest ended and mountain terrain took over. It was exceptionally windy that day, and Kevin, having climbed up the trail before, said it was out of the ordinary. We were getting blown around just trying to stand. With the gales starting and stopping randomly, we decided not to try the notches that day and come back when the wind calmed down. We went up a little more then came back down and chilled for a little bit before turning around and returning to the parking lot.
To the other side where the bus parking lots are, we tried the Pali Puka trail that was hidden behind a bamboo forest. The rock wall that lines the parking lot is damaged where the opening to the trail is, so it wasnt hard to find. The trail climbs through the bamboo forest then opens out to a path along the ridge that looks like most Koʻolau ridge hikes. When the path takes you along the ridge, the path is about a foot wide or less, so don't slip. There are many plants to hold onto that are stable so it wasnt so bad, and the wind wasnt trying to pick us up off the mountain as much as it was on the notches side. At the end of the trail, you reach a hole in the mountain - the puka, and if you stand in front of it on a really windy day like the one we went up, it'd probably be like sticking your whole body out of the car window going down the H3. The winds coming from the puka are cold and intense, and if you can't balance, you'll be blown down the mountain. The trail only ends at the puka because there's a huge vertical about 50 feet tall that prevents you from getting any higher. There didn't seem to be any way up or around the vertical so we might come back with equipment and find a way to continue past the puka.
We didn't even get to the Pali Notches because of the winds, but on a calmer day, the notches will probably be lots of fun. The puka was kinda disappointing but if there's a way to continue on upward, we'll find it. Both of the hikes together took us about 2 hours, so not very long compared to other hikes. The puka takes about 30 to 45 minutes and the trail to the notches took us over an hour because we were battling the winds to move around on the mountain.
The next time we do the Pali hikes, I'll make sure to take the camera and get some good pics, and hopefully that'll be soon because the notches seem like a worthy hike.